Kitchen Q+A: Slow Cookers and Crock Pots

Cathryn asked about crock pots.

I was thinking of this the other day and wanted to ask you. Since you love to cook so much and are such a great cook, how do you feel about crock pots? Do you have one that you use regularly. I like to cook but don’t have a lot of time so I love mine. But I feel like there are limits to what kind of dinners a crock pot can produce.”

I love this question because I’ve been thinking a lot about crock pots lately.

This is the model I own–

I was given my 4-Quart Rival Crock-Pot by friends for a baby shower gift. (Great gift, by the way!)  Update 04.26.2013: The lid broke and I was forced to replace the whole crock pot.  Still a great slow cooker and I still recommend it. Read below to see what I use now.

I have expensive taste, and when I have a place to put it, I’m going to buy me one of these 7 -qt. KitchenAid Slow Cookers.

My husband bought me an All-Clad Slow Cooker that I adore!

image via williams-sonoma.com

I use it all the time for everything.  It goes from stove or oven to the base and vice versa.  I would highly recommend shelling out the cash to get it.  It’s the last slow cooker I’ll ever need. :)

Okay, now for recipes–

I grew up with a mom who used the crock pot on a weekly basis–at least once or twice, and usually on Sundays. That being said, I have always been hesitant.

I’m not quite as comfortable using it as I could be. This is because I’ve always been a little scared of the “condensed soup factor.” And the overcooked, mushy factor. Up until recently, the only things I made were black beans and BBQ chicken.

Most of the recipes I have seen call for adding various ingredients (chicken breasts, rice, bottled salad dressing, beans, etc.) to a crock pot and topping it all off with cream of chicken or mushroom soup.

Sorry to say it, but I’m not down with that. I use cream of whatever soup occasionally, but my husband and I could not handle a steady diet of it. (No offense meant to anyone–our tastes are just different.)

You can make great things in a slow cooker/crock pot. Really, really great things.

And I really look hard for recipes that I can adapt to using in my slow cooker. The best ones I have found, are the recipes that require lengthy cooking times anyway. (Duh, right?)

I love making pot roast on a Sunday in a slow cooker because I’d rather not heat up my apartment for hours and hours, and my 3/4 size oven is usually occupied with dessert or rolls anyway.

Pot Roast is simple to make. Buy one with good marbling. Season it well with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet until very hot and brown the roast on all sides. Place it in the slow cooker. Add some red wine or beef broth–a cup should do it. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Bam! You have a super tender roast with lots of drippings to turn into gravy.

Slow Cooker Herbed Balsamic Pork Roast
Cranberry Mustard Pulled Pork (on isthisreallymylife.com)
Slow Cooker Vegan White Bean Stew
Slow Cooker BBQ Country Ribs
Black Bean and Chorizo Chili
Slow Cooker Tomatillo Green Chile Chicken Soft Tacos

Aunt K’s BBQ Beef
Beef Stroganoff
Cassoulet
Black Beans
BBQ Baked Beans
Sticky (Whole) Chicken

Beef and Barley Soup (from my friend Kathryn)

I also do chicken thighs a lot with Teryaki Sauce or BBQ sauce. (Cook on low for 8-10 hours.)

Another thing I’ve been anxious to try is curry. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Other resources:
Epicurious Slow Cooker Recipes
Crockpot 365 (a new blog I’ve recently discovered)
365 Days of Slow Cooking (my friend Karen’s blog)
Slow Cooker From Scratch (my friend Kalyn’s other blog)
The Gourmet Kitchen: Crock Pot and Slow Cooker Recipes
Adriana over at What I Made For Dinner makes some very yummy recipes in her crock pot.

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7 Comments

  1. I am excited to try these recipes! I like to use my slow cooker but am anti creamy soup. I really like the ‘not your mother’s slow cooker cookbook’. It has some good recipes and tips for doing soup and how to convert normal pot or roasted dishes to the slow cooker.

  2. I have made a fabulous thai pork loin in mine. A friend told me about this cookbook – “Not your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook.” It has great recipes. I like to make bean soup in mine. I work odd hours and my husband appreciates a hot meal even when I am not there.

  3. Oooohhh, I was so excited and honored to have my question answered! I am definitely going to try out some of these recipes. (I also grew up with crock pot dinners 2-3 times/week.)

  4. p.s. I made your mint-chocolate cake for my husband’s birthday this past weekend– my first cake from scratch! It turned out delicious, thanks for the great instructions.

  5. fine. i won’t throw my crockpot out just yet. i’m going to try a few of these. buuuut, i’m holding you responsible if there is a crock pot casualty in california.

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